Censorship on the Internet


Be irrepressible, an Amnesty International campaign.

>> Haga clic aqui para la versión en Castellano

Chat rooms monitored. Blogs deleted. Websites blocked. Search engines restricted. People imprisoned for simply posting and sharing information.

The Internet is a new frontier in the struggle for human rights. Governments – with the help of some of the biggest IT companies in the world – are cracking down on freedom of expression …

The web is a great tool for sharing ideas and freedom of expression. However, efforts to try and control the Internet are growing. Internet repression is reported in countries like China, Vietnam, Tunisia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria. People are persecuted and imprisoned simply for criticising their government, calling for democracy and greater press freedom, or exposing human rights abuses, online.

But Internet repression is not just about governments. IT companies have helped build the systems that enable surveillance and censorship to take place. Yahoo! have supplied email users’ private data to the Chinese authorities, helping to facilitate cases of wrongful imprisonment. Microsoft and Google have both complied with government demands to actively censor Chinese users of their services.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. It is one of the most precious of all rights. We should fight to protect it..

Database of censored material

Amnesty International is working with the OpenNet Initiative (ONI) to help raise awareness of internet censorship around the world.

The ONI is a collaboration among the Citizen Lab, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, the Advanced Network Research Group at Cambridge University, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School UK, and the Oxford Internet Institute, plus partner non- governmental organizations worldwide.

The aim of the ONI is to document empirically patterns of Internet content filtering and surveillance worldwide behind national firewalls over an extended period of time. The ONI employs a unique methodology that combines in-field investigations by partners and associates within the countries under investigation and a suite of technical interrogation tools that probe the Internet directly for forensic evidence of content filtering and surveillance technologies.

Its 11 country reports have documented the scope, scale and sophistication of numerous filtering regimes worldwide, and have helped verify the use of US commercial filtering technologies, such as Smartfilter and Websense that are used in some ways to underpin these regimes. The ONI’s flash map of global filtering shows the results of these investigations.

The work of ONI is supported by the Information Program of the Open Society Institute and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. ONI’s mapping work is supported by the International Development Research Centre (Canada).

The examples of censored material used for Irrepressible.info have been drawn from websites that have been blocked in one of the following countries – China, Iran, Myanmar, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Syria and Vietnam, and are based on latest testing results available from each country.

7 thoughts on “Censorship on the Internet

  1. This seems to me to be pretty disingenuous. Any communications technology or media can be exploited to further the ends of those who control that media. The corporations which control newspaper and TV programming are doing this today, carrying forward the agenda of the liberals. Should we apply the same logic in the case of newspapers and TV?

    The best way to manage the most intrusive cases of this sort of communications misuse is to prohibit its’ control (and/or even its’ overuse) by our government, which, if they so choose, can use media control in the most destructive manner — as was the case with Nazi Germany in the ’30s.

    1. It seems to me the biggest problem with all the media in general is the way they are owned. Some giants like Time Warner and Murdock or Berlusconi own many types of electronic and print media and can manipulate it if they care to.

  2. China not lecture on democracy or censorship. Especially after violent responses to Tibet and other ethnic, non-Han citizen demonstrations. China should focus on it’s own affairs and leave the rest of the world alone.🙂

  3. America not to lecture on democracy or censorship. Especially after Afganistan and Georgia.

    West should focus on its own affairs, and leave China alone.

  4. All the internet does is make information more accessable to the public.
    Meaning all the information is easily capable of being censored, altered or even falsified. And if a lie is easily accessed, it becomes more easily accepted as fact.
    Even forums are capable of being controlled or manipulated, sometimes even by posters paid to moderate or drown out genuine debate.
    China and Russia are prime examples of the modern misuse of digital information. Both for censorship and political propaganda.

    Hannah Nelson, Toronto, Canada

  5. You’re right, there’s censorship of the web. Comcast, for instance, and others, will not print comments which contain key words, especially those referring to homosexuals and Wahhabi, derogatory or not; you cannot call John Kerry a “coward” for running from the Vietnam war by his bogus Purple Hearts and then covering up his cowardice with his anti-war venom, or Teddy Kennedy a coward for his craven actions at Chappaquiddick, etc. There seem to be a whole slew of key words which get a serious commenter instantly censored, i.e., refused entry into the comments, while general name-calling of the most vile often kind seems admissable.
    Frank Portgaard, Osaka, JPN

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